Kenya GDP upswing stuns International Monetary Fund

By , People Daily Digital
Friday, September 11th, 2020 00:00 | 2 mins read
World Bank. Photo/File


The International Monetary Fund will revise Kenya’s economic gross domestic product upwards this year from an earlier forecast for a contraction, even after key Kenyan industries were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The change in outlook is supported by an improvement in several economic indicators and the lender now expects an “upward revision” of its June forecast for the economy to shrink by 0.3 per cent in 2020, Tobias Rasmussen, the IMF’s resident representative for Kenya, said Wednesday at a virtual investor conference organized by Renaissance Capital.

The IMF will release an updated Word Economic Outlook report next month, he said.

Export earnings

“We have seen an upturn in most activity indicators,” Rasmussen said. “Looking at the numbers coming out of Kenya it’s fair to say that the outruns here have so far been better than what we at the IMF expected.”

Kenya’s flower industry, the largest exporter of blooms to Europe, saw export earnings increase in the period through July, as did those of tea and fruit compared to last year, according to data from the statistics agency.

Parliament’s budget office has also revised its growth outlook to between 1 per cent to 2 per cent from an earlier forecast of -1.5 per cent to 1 per cent in April 2020, citing better than expected agricultural exports.

Renaissance Capital forecasts Kenya’s economy to grow at 1.5 per cent in 2020 driven by superior agricultural yields because of good rains, according to Yvonne Mhango, sub-Saharan Africa economist at the investment bank.

Kenya’s economy remains resilient due to its diversification and low dependency on natural resources for export, Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor Sheila M’Mbijjewe said at the webinar.

“There are good signs of recovery, these are visible. These are all positive, but the uncertainty remains,” she said.

The country is in talks with the World Bank for a loan to provide further budget support after receiving $1 billion (Sh109 billion)  in May, which followed a $750 million (Sh82 billion) package approved in 2019.

The budget gap of East Africa’s biggest economy is seen at 840.6 billion shillings ($7.8 billion) in the current fiscal year, or 7.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

Kenya, however, declined the G-20’s offer on debt relief because it “would impact on existing commercial lending terms,” M’Mbijjewe said.

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